Feb 25, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) dribbles the ball as Orlando Magic shooting guard Doron Lamb (1) defends in the second quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 115-106. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards at Magic preview: Game Time, Key Match Up, Notes and Prediction

After losing two straight games and falling to the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards will look to get back on the winning track tonight on the road. They’ll meet the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center at 7:00 PM.

Key Match Up:

With Nene sidelined, Marcin Gortat has really stepped up for the Wizards and they’ve managed to stay afloat in the standings despite missing one of their key players. Gortat has played well on both sides of the floor, but has made an even greater effort to contribute offensively with Nene out. With that said, he was thoroughly outplayed by Al Jefferson on Wednesday night and he has to bounce back against the Orlando Magic. After the loss, Gortat spoke about how became timid offensively against Jefferson, stating; “I kind of lost my aggressiveness probably because of the defense“, and that can’t be the case against the Magic tonight.

Much like Al Jefferson, Orlando big man, Nikola Vucevic, hasn’t really gotten the recognition he deserves this season. Vucevic is coming off a 20 point, 16 rebound performance against the Denver Nuggets’ front line, but has put up big numbers this entire season. Vucevic is averaging over 14 points and 11 rebounds this season and has been one of the best young big men in the entire league. Gortat has to protect the defensive glass because the Wizards can’t allow a high-energy team like the Magic to get second chance points. Gortat’s defense on Vucevic will likely determine the outcome of the game.

Notes:

  • Although the Orlando Magic are rebuilding their team, they do have a few veterans on their roster that can really produce. Arron Afflalo has been one of the most underrated players this season and he’s averaged 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.
  • Kevin Seraphin didn’t play on Wednesday against Charlotte, but he was activated after missing 7 games with a knee issue. I’d expect Seraphin to get some minutes against Orlando tonight.
  • The Magic are in the bottom five in offensive rating, but they’ve been about average defensively, which is a credit to coach Jacques Vaughn.

Prediction:

The Wizards have to win games they’re ‘supposed’ to win on paper and tonight will be one of those instances. Although the Magic do have some talent with Victor Oladipo, Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Afflalo leading the group, they’ve been struggling this season and are still in the rebuilding phase.

Washington is currently sixth in the conference and they can’t afford to drop games to teams that are well below .500. Orlando has been struggling mightily this season and the Wizards should be the heavy favorites tonight.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have to go back to playing aggressive basketball and settle less for jump shots. I thought both players settled way too often against the Bobcats on Wednesday and they have to attack against the Magic, especially since Orlando doesn’t have very many rim protectors.

I think the Wizards will get a double-digit victory after dropping two straight. They’re just two games above .500 and there’s not many games left in the season. It’s definitely possible to call this game a ‘must win’ for the road team tonight.

Tags: John Wall Marcin Gortat Nba Preview Nikola Vucevic Victor Oladipo Washington Wizards Wizards At Magic Wizards-magic Preview

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